779 Kentucky state workers will receive a pay increase this summer. Governor Steve Beshear made the announcement Monday.
Beginning in July, most people working for the executive branch of state government will earn at least $10.10 an hour. Tipped employees will see their pay more than doubled. The current state minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. During a press conference at the Kentucky Horse Park, Governor Beshear said raising wages will cost just over $1.5 million. "The state certainly can afford this move and all of the agencies that will be granting these raises to their lowest paid employees will take the money out of their current budgets," said Beshear.
The new policy also requires that private companies that do business with the state must pay a minimum wage of $10.10 to workers involved in state contracts. Beshear doesn't think that will necessarily mean increased state costs for those contracts. "They're gonna figure that into their negotiations and the state is a pretty tough negotiator, so I feel like we'll come out just fine on the cost of those contracts," said Beshear.
Beshear says he hopes the private sector in Kentucky will move to raise the minimum wage for its workers. He says studies show that concerns about job loss tied to raising the minimum wage are unfounded. "Raising the minimum wage reduces turnover in many low paying jobs, decreases the cost of training, increases productivity, and reduces inefficiencies," added Beshear.
The governor says workers in veterans nursing homes, behavioral health facilities and state parks are most affected. Beshear says raising the minimum wage generally can help move workers off food stamps and reduce turnover.